THE HAGUE, Netherlands—4 April 2022—The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Fernando Arias, met on 31 March with the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary (Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance), Mr Marc Shaw.
The Director-General briefed the Deputy Assistant Secretary on the Organisation’s efforts to prevent the re-emergence of chemical weapons, including potential threats to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The Director-General also provided an update on the construction progress of the new OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology (“ChemTech Centre”), a project to enhance the Organisation’s capability to respond to chemical threats and enhance the capabilities of OPCW Member States to use chemistry for peaceful and authorised purposes.
The Deputy Assistant Secretary announced that the United States has decided to allocate USD $250,000 from its voluntary contribution to the OPCW Trust Fund for Implementation of Article X to be used for the provision of assistance and protection to Ukraine in the event of the use or threat of use of chemical weapons.
A separate allocation of USD $58,048 from the same voluntary trust fund was announced to support chemical security and e-learning projects in Africa. A signing ceremony took place as part of the meeting.
The Deputy Assistant Secretary stated: “The United States stands with Ukraine and all those who face the threat of chemical weapons use. We are proud of the OPCW’s work and hope this initial contribution will provide the Secretariat with resources to quickly assist Ukraine as it seeks protection against chemical threats from the Russian government.”
The Director-General expressed: “I am thankful to the United States of America for its steadfast and unwavering support to the activities of the OPCW and its effort for effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. We will continue to work together to uphold the global norm against chemical weapons.”
During his visit to The Hague, the Deputy Assistant Secretary also paid a visit to the site of the future OPCW ChemTech Centre, currently being built outside The Hague.
The project to build the ChemTech Centre seeks to strengthen the OPCW’s capabilities to fully address new and emerging chemical weapons threats, as well as to support capacity building in OPCW Member States. The current OPCW Laboratory and Equipment Store are central to the effectiveness and integrity of the verification regime of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and they also contribute to the OPCW’s capacity building and international cooperation activities. However, the current facility will soon no longer be fit-for-purpose due to its ageing infrastructure, space constraints, larger workloads, and new missions with new areas of work.
A new facility is required to meet the demands of OPCW Member States for enhanced verification tools, improved detection capabilities and response measures, as well as increased capacity building activities. The ChemTech Centre will also help the OPCW to keep pace with developments in science and technology and new chemical weapons threats. Construction of the ChemTech Centre started in June 2021 and is planned to be finished by the end of 2022.
The United States has provided USD $ 6,995,767 in voluntary contributions for the construction of the ChemTech Centre.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW, with its 193 Member States, oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997, it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
All 193 States Parties have committed to never develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, transfer or use chemical weapons. The use – or threat of use – of chemical weapons anywhere, by anyone, under any circumstances is contrary to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Over 99% of all declared chemical weapon stockpiles have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.